COLUMNIST
April 16, 2018

Primary school places – not got what you wanted?

Pupils Image copyright Getty Images

Hundreds of thousands of parents are finding out which primary school their children will go to later this year. If the school on offer is unsuitable for some reason, there are a number of things you can do.

Think carefully

First, read the letter from your local authority very closely.

It will provide instructions about how to proceed if you do not wish to accept the school on offer.

But before acting in haste, and rejecting a school out of hand, remember that you do not have a right to choose a particular school for your child.

Instead, you have a right only to express a series of preferences.

If your first choice cannot be met, usually because there are other pupils living closer to the school than you or meeting the admissions criteria more closely than your family, the local authority allocates your child a place at an alternative school – in the order of your preferences.

But in a small number of cases this may be at a school that was not among your preferences.

Nevertheless, it is well worth going to see the school you have been offered and discussing any concerns you may have with the head teacher.

Waiting lists

All schools have to keep waiting list, and there is always a bit of movement after the first offer is sent out.

Some families may decide to go private, for example, which may free up a place at your chosen school.

So it is well worth checking whether you are on the waiting list of your preferred school.

Depending on whether the school controls its own admissions, this may be down to the school in question or the local authority.

A quick call to the schools admissions team will answer that.

The admission authority for the school must keep a waiting list for at least one term, and places are usually offered according to the school’s admissions criteria.

It is a good idea to find out what your position is on the waiting list and how far they tend to move before the start of term.

Should I appeal?

It is pretty difficult to win an appeal against a decision not to offer a child a place at a certain school.

Schools have a legal limit of 30 children per infant class, and this limits the powers of the appeal panel hearing your appeal.

There are cases in which the 30-pupil limit can be breached such as when twins need to be placed in a school or in the case of army families.

But where the school is very popular and over-subscribed, there will be lots of other parents jostling for places.

There are four grounds on which appeals can be successful:

  • The school’s admission arrangements do not comply with the law and if they did your child would have been offered a place
  • A mistake has been made with your child’s application and if it had been handled properly your child would have been offered a place
  • Admitting further children would not breach the infant class limit of 30 pupils per teacher
  • The refusal of a place was unreasonable, taking the admissions arrangements into account

Deciding to appeal

Be warned, persuading the local authority it has made a mistake is not going to be easy.

It is best to get as much information and evidence as possible before deciding to do this.

You must inform the local authority of your decision to appeal in writing.

You will then be given a date for your appeal hearing, at least 10 days in advance.

Know your arguments and practise what you are going to say.

It is possible to seek legal advice and may be advisable in some circumstances.

The Advisory Centre for Education offers some free advice on appeals.

You will need to explain why this school would be the best place for your child – concentrate on this, not on why an alternative school would be bad.

What is it about this particular school that makes it such a good fit for your child?

What happens at an appeal hearing?

An appeal panel of between three to five members of the public will assess your case.

At the hearing, the panel will be told why your application was turned down.

They will check that the school’s admission arrangements comply with the Schools Admissions Code.

Then, you will be invited to say why you are appealing against the decision.

You will need to explain why you think this school is best for your child and any special circumstances that support your application. Bring written evidence of this.

Once the appeal has been heard, the panel has to decide whose case is stronger – yours or the school’s.

You will get the result by post within seven days. The decision is legally binding.

If your appeal is successful, your child will be given a place at the school.

If your appeal is unsuccessful, you can still put your child’s name on the school’s waiting list.

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Huge numbers of young people are making a big decision about...
 
More school counsellors are needed to deal with a rise in...
 
British boxer Lawrence Okolie visits his former school as part of...
 
The school in Theresa May’s constituency says donations would help it...
 
The game sees images projected on to a table that residents...
 
More than 90% of students admitted to Oxford’s Mansfield College this...
 
Ministers announce a delay to the government’s tax-free childcare scheme. …...
 
University founder in Ghana wins major international education award. …...
 
The national campaign wants to empower children who feel odd or...
 
Sex scandals spanning Hollywood, Parliament and far beyond have exposed a...
 
Rabia’s family fled the Taliban and now she is studying at...
 
Harriet Nicol,16, from Billericay, Essex, took her life earlier this year....
 
Adopted children are far more likely to be excluded from school...
 
The first book in the Harry Potter series is translated into...
 
University of Reading had to remove a claim that it was...
 
Josh is blind and struggles to cope with the school playground...
 
More than half of England’s secondary schools did not offer the...
 
The Isle of Wight will consult parents on making summer holidays...
 
Universities launch free courses on how to spot fake news for...
 
Geoff Edwards said getting a place at the university is “the...
 
A survivor of the attack by Anders Breivik wants to tackle...
 
The Education Committee speaks to children in care as part of...
 
Research shows women rely on their parents for childcare but the...
 
Al-Hijrah Islamic faith school in Birmingham was found guilty of sex...
 
More than 370 NI principals say “children are suffering” and write...
 
Prof Eugene Terentjev told students they could harm grades by choosing...
 
Broke Britain: families are being squeezed into one-room flats in potentially...
 
Girls are half as likely as boys to be physically active...
 
The “Get a Grip” campaign tells parents to “be more organised”...
 
Police warn of a “worrying upward trend” and call for social...
 
England’s children’s commissioner says the system must help children recover from...
 
Ursula Shepherd says her teachers in the 1930s “didn’t really care”...
 
Colston’s Girls’ School says it would “obscure history” to deny the...
 
What’s it like being a Childline volunteer? …...
 
Autism assistance dog Rishi has enhanced 11-year-old Jake’s life, his family...
 
Three university students speak about how they have been treated on...
 
The school claims they are intended to combat bullying but parents...
 
The boy was seen performing a “wheelie” into the path of...
 
A stray firework lodged in Maisie’s scarf during a home fireworks...
 
Mexico needs urgent job opportunities for thousands of young returned migrants...
 
The women taking to the streets to campaign for better rights...
 
The women taking to the streets to campaign for better rights...
 
Women fleeing domestic abuse say councils are failing to provide them...
 
It’s Halloween. But how about finding an ancestor accused of being...
 
Payback time should also be extended to help avoid a future...
 
Parents struggling to cope with their violent autistic children say they...
 
The US has more citizens who are illiterate than many of...
 
Pools and sports halls across England are at risk as council...
 
A pioneering new project helps young people with life-limiting conditions to...
 
UCAS and Which? University’s tips on how to convince admissions tutors...
 
Student society warns reducing Oxbridge equality to ‘political soundbites’ can do...
 
Noëlla Coursaris Musunka, founder of Malaika school in DR Congo, wants...
 
Cambridge University students don’t want to just study books by white...
 
An increasing population and more housing developments are said to be...
 
Autistic children at a special educational needs school in London have...
 
Lucy, Sophie and Jess say they’ve all been directly affected by...
 
A scheme in Blackpool is getting more dads to read with...
 
The universities minister says the letter asking for details of Brexit...
 
Jo Johnson is quizzed on whether government official should have sent...
 
The project to boost wellbeing and activity in teenage girls is...
 
A campaigner wants all new dads to be screened for postnatal...
 
Fire chiefs say the move is vital to protect pupils –...
 
Unesco warns of the “poorest of the poorest” missing from international...
 
Rashael sat her A-levels when she was eight months pregnant and...
 
Two first year students on their first weeks at one of...
 
A Tory MP is under fire after writing to universities asking...
 
Spelling and postcode mistakes have triggered thousands of wrongly issued fines,...
 
The new picture of a mother with her baby was proposed...
 
Stephen Hawking’s PhD thesis, written as a 24-year-old, was made available...
 
Most respondents to a survey said no-one should have to work...
 
How some youngsters who are taken into care can be left...
 
New figures suggest schools are using cash reserves to “plug” funding...
 
The extent to which the Home Counties professional classes dominate Oxbridge...
 
Getting a £100 fine at the dentist is distressing, particularly if...
 
The head of a grammar school where pupils were stopped from...
 
Cambridge University students are given “trigger alerts” that they might be...
 
When Evelyn and Tony adopted Ryan at the age of seven,...
 
Adults do not have to drink a lot for children to...
 
The education secretary also confirms the income level at which loans...
 
Catherine says becoming ill at university inspired a career in mental...
 
A student who faced torture and imprisonment in Syria’s civil war...
 
A watchdog finds that hackers can track, eavesdrop or even communicate...
 
Dentists warn that thousands of vulnerable people are wrongly being fined...
 
Campaigners say youngsters should be allowed to put their views to...
 
A record number of children seek help from Childline over suicidal...
 
Too many pupils are taking GCSEs early, with pressure on schools...
 
Ellen – one of the first primary school children to transition...
 
Families with disabled children describe being abused online and in the...
 
She died at her home on Friday. …...
 
In your 70s and 80s? Time to start university, say the...
 
The Court of Appeal rules separating girls from boys at Birmingham’s...
 
Students’ personal details, including health problems and bereavements, were emailed to...
 
One former apprentice says the pay is so poor that she...
 
Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher’s children will only get one gift...
 
The British Woodworking Federation warns the lack of skilled joiners is...
 
Campaigners say some supply teachers take a second job to make...
 
Dillon was in care aged nine, now he’s training for a...
 
The number of looked-after children reaches a record high, with 90...
 
A County Antrim father posts footage of his son being hit...
 
Nathan Waring’s behaviour at two prep schools was ‘deep-seated and harmful’,...
 
How do plans to expand childcare provision in Scotland compare with...
 
A west London school gives its students free clocks to stop...
 
The key advice for helping children maintain a healthy weight and...
 
Ofsted’s boss says pupils need access to a wide and creative...
 
The government wants firms such as Facebook and Twitter to publish...
 
Social media and the ease of access to explicit material on...
 
The countries where most girls don’t even get to start primary...
 
Hungary is angry over a Ukrainian law limiting classes in the...
 
The firm says it is affected by a national internet connectivity...
 
With 35 pupils being excluded every day, Ben tells how he...
 
The first minister will commit to funding an expansion of free...
 
These commuters tied the knot after sharing the same carriage every...
 
Foster carers consider whether they should receive the same rights as...
 
Campaigners say the government is taking too long to produce guidelines...
 
“Essay mills” are charging up to £7,000 to provide students with...
 
Figures seen by BBC Panorama show assaults by under-18s on other...
 
This summer they competed in the world’s largest offshore race. …...
 
John Swinney announces £20,000 bursaries in a bid to tempt people...
 
“Damp in the walls, rats in the bedroom” – a single...
 
What counts as sexual harassment at work – and how do...
 
Detentions, isolation rooms and obsessive uniform policies… are schools becoming too...
 
Afghan refugee Farid says he learned English from watching episodes of...
 
This disused pub holds a secret about England’s housing crisis. …...
 
The war in Yemen has devastated the country’s education system and...
 
Two-thirds of young people would not mind if social media had...
 
A 24-year-old teacher’s account of teenage sexual activity prompts many to...
 
One young secondary school teacher is shocked by the stories she...
 
The researchers say this shows the potential for resilience in bullied...
 
A university in Hungary under threat of being shut down says...
 
Parents say they are concerned about the impact the policy is...
 
Cambridge University college Murray Edwards will consider transgender applicants for the...
 
After Mohammed was excluded for bad behaviour, he was home-schooled –...
 
Thousands of shops will dim lights and cut noise to create...
 
Sheikha Hind provides a modern face for the wealthy, blockaded Gulf...
 
Raising the point for repaying fees will save students thousands –...
 
Brit award winner Jack Garratt says the arts are equally as...
 
Former all-female Oxford college St Hugh’s was criticised for its University...
 
Maya Little is part of a growing cohort of young women...
 
The scale of maternity discrimination is being hidden due to the...
 
Glossy prospectuses and slick open evenings, but what should I look...
 
Conservatives are reaching out to students with a promise to freeze...
 
The PM plans to freeze tuition fees and extend Help to...
 
Lauren Stocks, 16, on public speaking, trolls and her political ambitions...
 
Children with severe allergies will have access to a spare adrenaline...
 
Every time Maya eats, she has to run off the calories...
 
Young women are hardest hit as a generation struggles with low...
 
But Instagram warned the simplified terms and conditions contained “a number...
 
The north-east of England has a secretive “fairy” leaving books for...
 
As a school bans “unhealthy” foods in lunchboxes, we ask what...
 
The drop is being linked to two court rulings that required...
 
A pupil at a small primary in the Highlands writes to...
 
Teaching children what to do in a terror attack “could potentially”...
 
A protest letter about school cash shortages is arriving in 2.5...
 
The school policy does not allow sausage rolls or pork pies...
 
We meet Zareen, a student from South London who the World...
 
The biggest intake of state school students will be starting at...
 
Six out of 10 young people in the world are failing...
 
Penalties given to teachers for cheating has risen by 50%. …...
 
Exam boards say they have shut down a website selling fake...
 
As a man is jailed for driving at a teacher, we...
 
The number of working mothers in England has risen by 1.2...
 
Police have released CCTV footage of the moment a car was...
 
With warnings over school funding shortages, official figures show more than...
 
Medical students discovered half the questions were on a 2015 paper...
 
Academic James Caspian says he was told by Bath Spa University...
 
A trial is launched to help pupils showing early signs of...
 
Schools are asking parents to dip into to their pockets to...
 
They are taking out pay day loans to live in luxury...
 
Loneliness costs £6,000 per person in ill-health, says a study, with...
 
Parents say 20 children have left Charter Academy over concerns about...
 
Families are starting to take transgender children out of schools over...
 
Free speech has become a university battleground. But what does the...
 
The findings come from 10,000 young people’s views and make worrying...
 
A quarter of 18- to 30-year olds in England and Wales...
 
Young people are paying more to live in less space than...
 
Schools must educate children about healthy relationships, say inspectors. …...
 
There are calls for changes to the way the lack of...
 
New Turkish school textbooks omit evolution but include the idea of...
 
RE teachers fear that pupils who do not study the subject...
 
Marjorie Hodnett trained to be a teacher in 1934, little did...
 
A group of friends met at the Buckinghamshire school in the...
 
Ear-rent, slug-a-bed and merry-go-sorry are among the words that academics want...
 
Key Stage 1 tests in England are to to end but...
 
Horrid Henry’s author defends the naughty schoolboy as Emmerdale actor Adam...
 
The government is arguing that the motion is not legally binding...
 
Government confirms minimum per pupil funding levels but Labour says it’s...
 
Under-30s ‘overburdened by responsibility and multiple barriers’, report finds. …...
 
Why VAT is charged on some uniforms and why governments haven’t...
 
Adult learners in Kenya get to read their first words, after...
 
Labour is forcing a vote by MPs in a bid to...
 
City College Norwich has apologised but says James Parker, 16, was...
 
This decline in income is in contrast to international trends, where...
 
One former student said he lost £2,500 on gambling machines, and...
 
Almost 35,000 teachers left their jobs for reasons other than retirement...
 
A school bans mobile phones and tell parents children should be...
 
Citizens Advice says those receiving the merged benefit are more likely...
 
The couple claim the school’s decision to recognise a transgender pupil...
 
The warnings come in a letter from the Department of Education...
 
The new position will sit within the university’s counselling service. …...
 
Government orders guidance review as councils say they face “sustained financial...
 
At least 400 children are believed to be buried in a...
 
Shadow Universities Minister Gordon Marsden says the company is nearing ‘meltdown’...
 
Only four of the Wakefield City Academies Trust schools are rated...
 
Prosecutors say better education about the law will ensure children understand...
 
Schools say the clubs boost behaviour and attendance but fear funding...
 
The school, which is an “annexe” of an existing grammar school,...
 
Nobel prize winner Malala Yousafzai says the ‘global community’ must protect...
 
Former pupil Piers Morgan criticises the change made by Priory School...
 
Pupils at Kepier School were lined up while trousers were checked...
 
Children with illnesses and disabilities transform into Justice League characters for...
 
New girls are being made to wear trousers amid concerns over...
 
A report exposes the scale of difference in rich and poor...
 
Pakistan’s “street children” get food, clothes and money to allow them...
 
The universities minister is to set out a series of measures...
 
We speak to students who paid for their studies by working...
 
Louise Richardson has distanced herself from comments she made on Monday....
 
Parents complain and sign a petition saying their children were treated...
 
Universities are telling applicants for next year that they still do...
 
Westminster University’s Menswear Archive goes back over 100 years and includes...
 
There are still 123 million children without access to schools, says...
 
Teaching recruiters say schools are scrambling for staff as they try...
 
A poll of school leaders suggests many think the problem has...
 
The vacancy rate in England is nearly twice as high in...
 
BBC Scotland’s Jamie McIvor looks at the plans for education set...
 
The two elite UK universities are at the top of the...
 
Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews, Aberdeen and Dundee feature in the Times...
 
Vice-chancellor Louise Richardson has defended professors expressing views “against homosexuality”. …...
 
The criminal hackers are looking for valuable research to steal, responses...
 
As many as 200 jobs at course provider SS&L could be...
 
The council wants to bring in another body to run the...
 
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is set to put education at the...
 
Some parents think it’s just an excuse for teachers to put...
 
Brian White can take his place at Oxford after being granted...
 
University bosses’ pay reflects a global marketplace and not higher fees,...
 
University mental health services face a “considerable challenge”, a report says....
 
Maharashtra sparks controversy with a bid to remove Mughal history from...
 
The UK 2020 report argues that fast-track two-year degrees could cut...
 
A grammar school reverses it policy of refusing to let some...
 
Nyasha thinks it’s unfair the interest she pays on her student...
 
A Cambridge University student says he has received abusive mail and...
 
For the sixth year in a row, councils warn schools could...
 
MSPs on Holyrood’s education committee set out more than 30 recommendations...
 
Two out of five low-paid young parents who request flexible working...
 
Exam watchdog will review rules to prevent teachers leaking exam information....
 
The proportion of Welsh students going to the UK’s best universities...
 
A survey by an education charity suggests three-quarters of nurseries feel...
 
A judge rules there were no concerns about a Christian girl...
 
Those who draw up exams should not directly prepare pupils for...
 
There are big national and political divides in what people expect...
 
A judge places the five-year-old Christian girl in the permanent care...
 
A grammar school faces a legal challenge over stopping pupils from...
 
More than half of Scots who graduated from university and some...
 
The social media titan has written about the magic of childhood...
 
Some 30,000 more teenage women than men are set to start...
 
Heads suggest there will not be a rush to judgement if...
 
Some A-level students in Liverpool may have missed out on university...
 
Government funding for key A-level maths project will cease in September....
 
Zainab Fhadal arrived in Stoke-on-Trent three years ago only speaking a...
 
If your GCSE results are a problem, ask our experts for...
 
Only 2,000 students in England achieved a clean sweep of top...
 
The number of A* to C grades awarded is nearly 80%...
 
Qualifications Wales says an increase in 15-year-olds sitting exams early is...
 
The wait for the GCSE grades – the first to be...
 
The top grade for GCSEs will be a 9. This could...
 
The Home Office is to launch a study into the impact...
 
Students and schools have struggled to grapple with it and there...
 
Results for English and maths will be expressed as numbers. How...
 
Barnardo’s says linking visits to male prisoners’ good behaviour is cruel...
 
GCSE grades need to rise in England to catch up with...
 
Thousands of parents are having problems using the Childcare Services website....
 
A project wants to turn migrants in Europe into entrepreneurs and...
 
It follows criticism of the £451k salary of University of Bath...
 
Graduate jobs have not been created by firms at the rate...
 
Private school leader urges caution over interpretation of new grading system...
 
From next month Turkish schools have a new curriculum and it...
 
The publishing house unblocks access to sensitive China stories after protests....
 
Joy Gibson, from Stratford-upon-Avon, re-entered academia at the age of 59....
 
New figures show record numbers placed through clearing as universities seek...
 
Students at Kensington Aldridge Academy close to Grenfell Tower have been...
 
Results not quite what you were expecting? Two experts are on...
 
Some Kensington Aldridge Academy pupils had to take AS-levels while the...
 
Theresa May’s former chief of staff says the system is ‘unsustainable’...
 
Too few learners and apprentices achieve the skills and qualifications to...
 
This is the best performance at the top A* and A...
 
A chatbot at Leeds Beckett University is helping A-level students find...
 
The 20-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner will study philosophy, politics and...
 
Manchester attack victim Georgina Callander would have studied paediatrics, her mother...
 
Your stories about taking a route other than university after getting...
 
A* or A grades were achieved in 30.4% of entries, a...
 
The long wait is almost over for young people to find...
 
Thousands of teenagers are getting their A- and AS-level results, but...
 
Training company is barred from taking on new apprentices as Ofsted...
 
Almost 170 Queen’s University students say they were sexually assaulted, according...
 
Adults who believe they don’t stereotype boys and girls are put...
 
A radical counselling scheme for some domestic abusers cuts offending by...
 
The government has ruled out any reversing on plans for higher...
 
An injunction obtained by Learndirect against the publication of the critical...
 
Black and Asian students are much more likely to choose universities...
 
Alex Holliday was a Year 10 student at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar...
 
Charity researchers compared child poverty figures with university participation rates …...
 
Action for Children estimates 140,000 children referred to social services do...
 
A blog on birth trauma is prompting women to share their...
 
It follows criticism of the £451k salary of University of Bath...
 
Team of teenagers becomes the only crew from a state school...
 
The former director of GCHQ Robert Hannigan supports children spending time...
 
The income gap between men from poor families and rich ones...
 
The barring decision also disqualifies him from being a governor at...
 
Not enjoying studying and debt fears are two issues worrying 11...
 
The Welsh government’s £500,000 scheme offers the meals to children in...
 
Nine students at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and Methodist College...
 
Inverness College UHI describes the results from its Higher Media exam...
 
The largest offshore yacht race is this week, with a team...
 
Having pledged a 25% rise in student doctors, the government confirms...
 
The National Student Survey finds 84% of students were content overall...